The Drake Relays

America’s Athletic Classic

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TM in America“David Peterson brings readers to the finish line with his astounding photographic tribute to the Drake Relays. Filled with action and drama and taken with the eye of a former college track competitor, Peterson’s images evoke the athleticism and emotion of America’s favorite track meet and bring out the track fan in all of us.”
—Damian Strohmeyer, contributing photographer, Sports Illustrated

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“To capture the drama and excitement of the Iowa institution that is the Drake Relays, it takes a special photographer steeped in the lore and legend of the event and the great athletes that make it a classic. Dave Peterson, a former record-setting collegiate runner and award-winning photographer, has done that with this very personal book.”
—Jeff Jacobsen, staff photographer, Kansas Athletics
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“If, as the great sports commentator Heywood Hale Broun has said, ‘Sports do not build character. They reveal it,’ then here—in the masterful images of David Peterson—is character revealed beautifully, powerfully, fully.”
—Chris Johns, editor in chief, National Geographic
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“When storied history and glimpsed future meet on the Blue Oval every spring, they create an experience too powerful to capture—yet that’s just what David Peterson has done. The Drake Relays is an extraordinary mix of performance and place, but mostly, as Peterson says—with both evocative word and striking imagery—it’s a love affair.”
—Beth Wilson, Marketing and Communications, Drake University
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The Drake Relays are one of the iconic events of track and field in the United States. World and Olympic champions test their speed and stamina on the famed Blue Oval in Des Moines, Iowa, every April, and by spring 2013 they had set fourteen world records and fifty-one American records. But unlike most other top meets, this one also features college athletes from all over the country and high school athletes from across Iowa, giving them the experience of a lifetime—competing on the same track with the elite in their sport. This mix brings many enthusiastic spectators to the stadium and makes for an unusually close bond between fans and athletes—it’s as if everyone’s family is there cheering.Pulitzer Prize–winning photographer David Peterson has been covering the Drake Relays for nearly forty years, but his love affair with the meet started earlier, when he ran on three winning relay teams there for Kansas State University. Now, drawing upon an unmatched personal archive, he offers the pictures of a lifetime spent on the Blue Oval. He captures on camera athletes of all levels in triumph and defeat, in mid-stride or leap, embracing their fans, their moms and dads, and their kids. In addition to the stars of the past, such as Carl Lewis, Suzy Favor Hamilton, and Herschel Walker, and those of the ’00s, like Lolo Jones and Jeremy Wariner, we see teenagers who may be the stars of the future, as well as the many athletes who will never be famous but nonetheless show themselves—and their sport—at their best.A beautiful celebration of the Drake Relays and the diverse sports that make up “track and field,” this book will evoke memories and inspire runners, throwers, and jumpers everywhere.